Today our cohort woke up bright and early to head to Philadelphia to visit UPENN. For me, this was especially exciting because in addition to touring a renowned university, it would be my first trip on the subway. After getting our tickets from a machine strikingly similar to the ticket machines at BART stations, I noticed one major difference between BART and the New York Subway System. Like other aspects of New York City culture, the subway was much faster than BART in terms of pace. The doors open and close much faster, which helps explain the more aggressive nature that we were given a taste of on our way from JFK to our hotel. Upon arriving at Penn Station, we found that all Amtrak trains were delayed indefinitely due to a power outage. After 45 minutes of waiting and watching a video on the security at Amtrak stations, we finally boarded our train.
After a rather uneventful train ride, we arrived at our destination, Philadelphia. Due to our delay, we missed the informational session, the part of the visit I was looking forward to the most. However, also due to the delay, we had time to walk slowly through Philadelphia and look at Drexel's campus. I thought the Drexel campus was neat and interesting, but when we arrived at the UPENN campus, I was blown away. Each building appeared almost castle-like and gave off a Hogwarts feel. One reason why I really like UPENN and want to apply there is that as we walked around, I felt as if the atmosphere was relaxed, even though the curriculum is rigorous, the four college system, and the size. I think that I would enjoy the undergraduate size because it's large enough that I wouldn't know everyone in my class, but as I walk around I'm sure that I would find someone that I know. Unfortunately we had to cut our tour a little short in order to make our lunch with two students and two outreach officers.
Our lunch was extremely beneficial because the students offered insight about what it is like to attend UPENN. Moreover, the two outreach officers told us that they were looking first and foremost for students who pushed themselves to take the most difficult curriculum offered at his/her high school and maintained high grades. This was a surprise for me because I had always thought that the SAT scores are what admission officers weighed the most.
After our wonderful lunch, we headed off to do some sightseeing in the historic section of Philadelphia. As we rushed to Independence Hall, we were mislead by the locals who told us that Independence Hall was located on 15th street when it is really located on 5th street. After much confusion, we finally arrived at Independence Hall where we took a tour and got to see the very location were our founding fathers signed the two most important documents in our history: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
We then hurried off to the train station to catch our train back in time for dinner only to find that for the second time today there was a power outage. This time we were allowed to board the train where we waited for the green light to go. I found the delay to be a good thing because as we waited to leave I struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me who was in a hurry to catch a flight to India from Newark for business. A decade ago, he helped develop a software application to help employees get the most of their medical benefits. His software was so efficient that the company he worked for was bought by a larger company, which was bought by an even larger company. Due to the massive amount of new customers, Gary said that there is no way that he can keep up with the workload, so the company decided to outsource a part of the workload to India. Because of this, Gary volunteered to go to India and train these new workers while doing a fraction of the work he did in Baltimore. He said that the trip is very enjoyable because he gets to fly first class, stay at a Marriott, and travel the world...all for free. In addition, his company gives him $60 a day to spend, but Gary claims that everything is so cheap in India that it's really unnecessary to spend more that $20 a day. So all in all, he makes money out of the two-month trip.
As Gary prepared to come back to the States, he found out that the next employee to come over and train the new workers had a family emergency and could no longer make the trip. Because he had no obligations at home, Gary volunteered to come back to India, but only after he was allowed two weeks at home with his grandsons. Due to the two week time period, the only visa that his company was able to grab him was a business visa, which makes it against the law for Gary to do any of the work he did here in the U.S.A. Moreover, he signed up for Continental Airlines frequent flyer miles, and a similar program for the Marriott Hotel. By the end of his second two-month stay in India, Gary says he plans to use his miles and free stays at the Marriott to "party" in Amsterdam.
I truly wish that I had his job because as far as I'm concerned it is the best job I've heard of.